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June 20, 2019

Eagles rookie NFL player comparisons: Shareef Miller

Eagles NFL

During this dead period of the offseason, we'll be comparing each of the Eagles' rookies to current NFL players. Today we'll take a look at fourth-round defensive end Shareef Miller.

Previous Eagles rookie player comparisons

Andre Dillard | Miles Sanders | J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

First, who did Miller pattern his game after?

"My favorite player was Von Miller. Chandler Jones is a guy I like to pattern my game after, just because he's the same height, same weight, tall, lanky dude. Mainly those two guys there.

"Miller's speed, just how he bends. His get-off is key. He gets off the ball before dudes get out of their stance. And then with Chandler Jones, he's not as fast as Miller, but he picks his spots."

Who does Miller remind me of?

To begin, the Eagles drafted Miller late in the fourth round, knowing that he's something of a project. They also feel that they got something of a steal on Day 3 because the loaded defensive line class pushed him further down the draft than normal.

"When you look at today, a guy like Shareef, we think in a normal draft, that guy goes yesterday," Roseman said in his recap press conference on the final day of the draft. "Because so many teams took defensive linemen, we had an opportunity to get a young pass rusher we think we can work with and develop and has some tools in his body."

The "work with and develop and has some tools in his body" comment from Roseman jibes with pre-draft scouting reports, such as Lance Zierlein's of

Projection based defensive end who with good size and athletic traits but a lack of functional skill at this point. Miller doesn't play with early, aggressive hands in the run game or as a rusher and that severely limits his consistency in both areas. His lack of instincts as a rusher is a concern, but improving his approach at the top of the rush should be coachable. He's a rangy edge defender with moldable traits, but until he'll be stuck in a holding pattern of "potential" until he develops his fundamentals.

New Eagles defensive line coach Phillip Daniels revealed what the Eagles look for in their defensive ends, and how that applies to Miller.

"I think the first trait that you want to see in a guy is being smart," Daniels said. "He's a smart player. And then you want a guy who can run. In our defense, you have to run as an end, because you have to close, and run and make tackles down the line. If you can get to spots, and you can run, we're almost there, where you need to be. The other part is the physicality part. We won't (see) that until training camp. Other than that, we just like his ability, his size, his length, and the things that he can do. You want to have length in this defense to get separation from blocks, get off blocks, and make plays."

Miller can indeed run, but where does he still have to develop? I think a lack of strength shows up in his play, and it certainly showed up at the Combine, when he only put up 16 reps on the bench press (5th percentile at DE) and a vertical jump of 29 1/2" (12th percentile). He also lacks a pass rushing repertoire. In college, he could get to the quarterback on raw athleticism. In the pros, he'll need to develop go-to pass rush moves. 

His skill set reminds me a little of Mathias Kiwanuka, the former DE/LB for the Giants. 

Coming out of college, Kiwanuka was a little bigger than Miller, slightly more athletic, and much more productive (over 30 sacks in college). As a result, he was drafted much higher than Miller. However, he also had some of the same functional strength concerns, and was clearly a better pass rusher than run defender. Their Combine measurables were similar:

 MeasurableShareef Miller Mathias Kiwanuka 
 Height6'5 6'6 
 Weight254 266 
 40 yard dash4.69 4.70 
 Vertical jump29 1/2" 32" 
 20-yard shuttle4.45 4.15 
 Bench press16 reps 17 reps 

Kiwanuka was drafted to a Giants team that already had Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, but as a first-round pick, he was expected to produce immediately as a role player. In his second season, the Giants (mistakenly, in my opinion) moved Kiwanuka to SAM linebacker. He toggled back and forth between DE and LB during a solid, but unspectacular career.

Miller is a tall, fast edge rusher who will have time to develop. The Eagles think he can be a good all-around player if he puts in the time in the weight room, and takes coaching on his technique.

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